Heading into the weekend, Florida’s recruiting class was ranked #65 nationally by Scout.com. The additions of Richard Desir-Jones, Fredrick Johnson and Luke Ancrum will lift that rating some, but the big jump will be made Wednesday on National Signing Day when Martez Ivey, Byron Cowart and CeCe Jefferson make their decisions known with plenty of fanfare. Should the Gators land those three – a lot of folks whose information is rarely wrong say all three will be putting on Gator ball caps – then Jim McElwain’s first recruiting class will go down as an unqualified success and should wind up in the top 25 final rankings.
Ivey, Cowart and Jefferson are three of the top 13 recruits nationally and among the top five players in the state of Florida. If the Gators can land these three plus flip quarterback and Florida State commitment Deondre Francois, the 10th ranked quarterback in the nation, it will say plenty about McElwain the recruiter. If he can do this with short notice, imagine what he might be able to do with a full staff in place and a year to build the relationships statewide.
A strong finish would also say plenty about McElwain’s ability to overcome a ton of negative recruiting in this past month. I keep hearing that two or three schools have been pouring on the negatives as recruiting has taken off down the home stretch. I’ve also heard from very reliable sources that McElwain and staff have simply concentrated on what Florida has to offer rather than countering negatives with negatives.
That’s how many starters in the Super Bowl were 5-star recruits coming out of high school.Seven.
That’s how many Super Bowl starters were 4-star recruits coming out of high school. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, James Carpenter, Bruce Irvin and Byron Maxwell and New England’s LeGarrette Blount, Rob Gronkowski and Dont’a Hightower earned four starts.
That’s how many stars Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson earned coming out of high school. His top offer was Duke before North Carolina State came in with a late offer. Wilson graduated in three years from North Carolina State and after being shoved out the door by then head coach Tom O’Brien, transferred to Wisconsin where he led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl.
That’s Malcolm Butler, the corner who saved New England’s Super Bowl by jumping that short slant route and picking off Wilson’s pass at the goal line. He went to Hinds Community College straight out of Vicksburg, Mississippi then played two years of Division II football at West Alabama, a school of some 5,000 students that plays in the Gulf South Conference.
The lesson here: As good as a recruit might be coming out of high school, work ethic and determination will be the final factors in getting him to prominence at the next level.
After his Rose Bowl season of 2011 at Wisconsin, ESPN reports the Miami Dolphins interviewed and were ready to hire Bret Bielema as the head coach. Bielema was ready to take the plunge to the NFL except for one thing: the Dolphins weren’t willing to draft Russell Wilson in the second round.
Bielema told ESPN: "They all looked at me like, 'You can't say that. That's the difference between college and pro. He's undersized. He can't throw.' I was like, 'OK, all right,' and I honestly, that day, kind of pulled myself out of it."
Bielema has rebuilt Arkansas to the point that Sporting News has the Razorbacks as the #4 team nationally in its all too early 2015 preseason top 25 and Wilson has taken the Seattle Seahawks to back Super Bowls. As for the Dolphins, they last made the playoffs in 2008 and haven’t done better than 8-8 since that last playoff appearance.
1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State: Neither Alabama nor Oregon could stop Elliott in the two playoff games and with four returning offensive line starters, no one on Ohio State’s 2015 schedule will stop him either. He gained 476 yards and scored six touchdowns in the two playoff games, finished the season with 1,878 yards and 18 TDs.
2. Ohio State quarterback: Whether it’s J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones at quarterback, the Buckeyes are going to be formidable on offense and whoever gets the snaps is going to put up Heisman-like numbers. Barrett was on the Heisman short list before he broke his ankle. Jones is 3-0 in his only three starts with wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon.
3. Braxton Miller: Even though he’s enrolled in school at Ohio State this spring quarter and has already graduated, don’t expect him to be in Columbus next year, not with Oregon, LSU and Florida State all just the right quarterback away from a run at the final four.
4. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State: Until Mississippi State lost two of its last three regular season games, Prescott had a date with the Heisman podium. He’s back for his senior season and even though the Bulldogs lost three starters on the offensive line, Dan Mullen has recruited well and Prescott’s numbers won’t suffer. He passed for 3,449 yards and 27 touchdowns and ran for 986 and 14 more.
5. Nick Chubb, Georgia: Chubb only started eight games yet ran for 1,547 ayrds and 14 touchdowns as a true freshman, capping off his season with 266 yards and two touchdowns against Louisville’s then #1-ranked defense in the Belk Bowl.
7. Cody Kessler, Southern Cal: Kessler put up astounding numbers in 2014 – 3,826 passing yards, 39 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He is the nation’s best pure pocket passer.
8. Samaje Perine, Oklahoma: Perine is a 245-pound load who set the NCAA single-game rushing record with 427 against Kansas as a true freshman. He finished the season with 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns.
9. Leonard Fournette, LSU: There were games when Fournette hardly saw the football (only eight carries against Wisconsin, seven against Mississippi State and five against Arkansas) yet he still finished with 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus averaged 26 yards per kickoff return.
10. Corey Clement, Wisconsin: Clement gained 947 yards backing up Melvin Gordon, who gained 2,547. Gordon has gone to the NFL and Paul Chryst is the new head coach, which means more ground and pound for the Badgers.
After his embarrassing showing at the Phoenix Open in which he missed the cut by 12 strokes following his meltdown 82 Friday, you have to wonder if golf’s one time dominant presence hasn’t gone to the well too many times in his career. Tiger Woods is on his fifth swing change, his third since the last time he won a major back in 2008.
The latest swing guru in charge of helping Tiger re-invent himself is someone named Chris Como, who replaced someone named Sean Foley. There is some merit to the concept that Tiger’s obsession with finding the perfect swing has been his downfall. Rather than stick with what’s working – a concept that worked quite well for guys like Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus – Tiger has constantly tried to come up with the perfect swing and in doing so, has burned bridges with his swing gurus.
He’s 39 years old now, has battled through one injury after another and has to go against a field of youngsters who not only hit the ball farther and straighter but aren’t afraid of him. I’ve always contended that when Tiger was at his best, his mystique was worth at least one to two shots per round.
Guys like Rory McIlroy aren’t the least bit afraid of someone who hasn’t trusted his swing in years.
Those are minutes of my life I can’t get back. Katy Perry was the halftime entertainment. I guess I was supposed to be entertained. I wasn’t.
Do people really pay money to see Katy Perry perform live or to buy her music?
Do you think there is a strong correlation between recruiting rankings and success at the college level?
Norah Jones hasn’t released an album since her 2012 release “Little Broken Hearts” and that has been disappointing although she did record a song for the sound track to the show “Boardwalk Empire” that was released a couple of weeks ago. She hasn’t released any tour dates for 2015 but supposedly she will be touring starting in late spring and throughout the summer. Today’s music is “Sunrise,” the first cut from her 2004 release “Feels Like Home,” which also featured a terrific song called “What Am I to You.”